SLOVENIA WAITING FOR “BABY DRAGONS”
(P2) Scientists in the Central European country have proudly announced that a female OLM — an AQUATIC AMPHIBIAN living in the country’s biggest CAVE — has laid eggs. They have described it as the first wild observation of olm BREEDING.
(P3) The eyeless pink animal, known as the “baby dragon” and “human fish” for its skin-like color, can live a century and breeds only once a decade.
(P4) Slovenian scientists have been excited about having baby olms born in Postojna Cave. The eggs are expected to HATCH in about 100 days.
(P5) “This is something truly extraordinary,” said biologist Saso Weldt, who works at the cave in northwestern Slovenia. “Nobody has ever witnessed (their) REPRODUCTION in nature. We even haven’t seen an animal younger than two years.”
(P6) The eggs were discovered by chance by a tour guide who leads visitors through the cave. The mother olm stood guard over the eggs, snapping at an INTRUDER who tried to come too close.
(P7) Scientists removed other nearby olms, leaving the mother alone with the eggs.
(P8) In the weeks that followed, the olm laid a total of 57 eggs, three of which seem to be developing. Biologists say this is a good number, as olm eggs have a poor SURVIVAL record.
(P9) “Olms are not really successful when it comes to reproduction,” Weldt explained.
(P10) Slovenians, some of whom believe that the olm should be named “Slovenian of the Year,” have been KEEPING THEIR FINGERS CROSSED.
(P11) “We did all that is in our power,” biologist Weldt said. “Now we wait.”
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Many Slovenians see the olm as a national SYMBOL. What animals are symbols in your country?
- Have you ever visited a cave?
- Why wouldn’t an olm have eyes?
- Very few animals live 100 years. Why would an olm live so long?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Count down
- Keep fingers crossed